List o’ 10 Company Name Origins

List o' 10 Company Name OriginsHave you ever wondered where some well-known companies got their names? Anyone who has had the task of coming up with a name for something - a business, a website, a newborn baby – knows how difficult this can truly be. This is especially true for a business, as the name has to represent the business in the market place and stand out from the crowd. Some are obvious, such as 7/Eleven (named after the stores’ operating hours), but others, which are not as intuitive, still sound cool. This list presents naming origins of ten well-known companies.

10. 3M

3M - company logo3m scotch tape3M post it pad

The name of the maker of the famous Post It Notes comes from the company’s original name, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. Though it has come a long way from its roots in Mining the company has retained its original name as a salute to its history and roots.

9. Nintendo

Nintendo logoNintendo castNintendo Wii

Nintendo is the transliteration of the company’s Japanese name, nintendou (???). The first (nin) can be translated as to “entrusted”; ten-dou means “heaven”, translating into English as “leave luck to heaven”. The company apparently did just that, and took matters into their own hands. The company was founded in 1889 to manufacture playing cards (the luck reference makes more sense in this context) and did not begin making video games until 1978. The luck part happened in 1977, when the company hired a young artist named Shigeru Miyamoto who would go on to create Donkey Kong, Mario, Zelda and the Wii.

8. Oracle

Oracle Corporation logoOracle Corporation data centre

Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle Corp), Ed Oates and Bob Miner were working on a consulting project for the CIA. The code name for the project was Oracle. The project was designed to use the newly written SQL database language from IBM. The project was eventually terminated but they decided to finish what they started and bring it to the world. Later they changed the name of the company, Relational Software Inc., to the name of the product.

7. Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce silver lady hood ornamentRolls Royce logoRolls-Royce-Phantom-Coupe

The definitive brand for luxury cars, the RR name is recognized around the world as the standard for high end autos. In 1884 Frederick Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business, making his first car, a Royce, in 1904. He was introduced to Charles Stewart Rolls on 4 May that year. The pair entered into a partnership in which Royce would manufacture cars to be sold exclusively by Rolls, and the cars would be called Rolls-Royce.

6. Qantas

Qantas airlines

This name is fascinating for its use of the letter “Q” without being followed by a “U”, seemingly breaking all rules spelling in the English language. It is also reputed as the only airline to never have had a crash. The name is an acronym taken from its original name, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.

5. Motorola

Motorola logo

Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company (at the time, Galvin Manufacturing Company) started manufacturing radios for cars. Many audio equipment makers of the era used the “ola” ending for their products, most famously the “Victrola” phonograph made by the Victor Talking Machine Company. The name was meant to convey the idea of “sound” and “motion”. It became so widely recognized that the company later adopted it as the company name.

4. Shell

Shell logo timeline

Royal Dutch/Shell was established in 1907, when the Royal Dutch Petrol Society Plc. and the Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd. merged their operations. The Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd had been established at the end of the 19th century by commercial firm Samuel & Co (founded in 1830). Samuel & Co were already importing Japanese shells when they set up an oil company, so the oil company was named after the shells.

3. Skype

Skype logo

This free VOIP service is the creation of the same people who created Napster. The original concept for the name was Sky-Peer-to-Peer, which morphed into Skyper, then Skype.

2. Coca Cola

Coca Cola logo

This famous brand name was derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the ‘K’ of kola to ‘C’ to make the name look better.

1. e-Bay

ebay logo

Pierre Omidyar, who had created the Auction Web trading website, had formed a web consulting concern called Echo Bay Technology Group. “Echo Bay” didn’t refer to the town in Nevada, “It just sounded cool”, Omidyar reportedly said. Echo Bay Mines Limited, a gold mining company, had already taken, so Omidyar registered what (at the time) he thought was the second best name:

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May 19, 2010 at 07:37